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Infant - Week #1

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A 1-week-old At A Glance

By Amy Salatino, edHelperBaby

  She's Out, Now What?
           After 40 weeks of waiting, your baby is finally here.  You've read the books, taken the classes, and prepared the house; now it's game time; let the fun begin!


  Sleep, Sleep and More Sleep!
           Your newborn is probably sleeping 16 - 20 hours a day although not consecutively.  During these many hours of sleep, there will be short bouts of wakefulness for feedings and changing.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants sleep on their backs to help prevent SIDS.  If your infant is napping and you are close by, it is okay to let her nap on her tummy for short periods of time; this will help ease the transition to tummy time in the next few weeks.


  Can you SMELL that?
           No, we're not talking about the dirty diapers; we're talking about your baby's sense of smell.  Your baby is born with her sense of smell intact and will turn to your breast as a clue that she is ready to eat.  Notice that at times she'll also turn away when she smells unpleasant smells (now I AM referring to that diaper).


Baby Burrito!
           Your newborn has spent the last 40 weeks crammed into the cozy confines of your uterus.  She is used to being confined to close quarters.  Because of this, many infants sleep more soundly if they are swaddled.  Swaddling keeps them warm and toasty and often times keeps them calm, comfortable, and undisturbed from their own startle reflex.


  I Know That Voice!
           Your baby will recognize your voice from the moment she is born.  After all, she's been listening to it for the past couple of months!  In many cases, just hearing your voice will be soothing to her.  Help ease your baby's transition by giving her lots and lots of opportunities to hear your comforting voice.


  DO try this at home!
           From the moment your baby is born you are responsible for every aspect of her life.  You are responsible for the obvious ones like her health and safety.  But you are also responsible for providing her with experiences and opportunities that will further growth and development.  That first week as you are getting to know your little one, all those "firsts" are experiences enough.  But do make a point to document this magical week in as many ways as possible.       

       Our video camera hasn't stopped running, and the 437 pictures that I took are already uploaded (not like ANYONE, even grandma, wants to look at that many pictures).  Here are two other ways that I documented Max's birth:       

       During my hospital stay, I wrote Max a heartfelt letter.  The letter basically tells him his birth story and how we'd waited and prepared for him for the last nine months.  In the letter I try to put into words my love for him and what a special place he holds in my heart (you all know how hard this is to put into words).  I sealed the letter and put it in his baby box for when he is a daddy himself.  I think then and only then, will he be able to understand the importance of my words and the emotions that I was feeling.       

       I also started a birthday tradition for him.  I laid him on my hospital bed and lined up dollar bills next to him.  On the third day of his life, he was not quite three dollar bills tall.  Every birthday from here on out I will take a picture of him lying on the floor with dollar bills to measure his growth!


  That's Questionable!
           Q - Aside from having your baby, what was the BEST part of your hospital stay?       

       I don't know if I'm in the minority here, but I LOVE going to the hospital to have my babies, and I LOVE the stay itself.  Max is my fourth baby in a little over four years and my adoration for the hospital hasn't wavered a bit.  My favorite part has got to be room service, not the food itself, but the ability to pick up the phone, order what I want and have it brought to me.  There is something magical about not having to go shopping or make the food or serve the food and especially not having to clean up the mess.  All in all, though, I love every bit of it: the caring people, the joy that just swirls around the hallways, the visitors, the free diapers...It is an incredible time of unadulterated happiness, and I make a point to enjoy every second of it.


  Notes about Max
           As we go on this journey together, it might help to have a little bit of background on Max to understand the activities and experiences that I am going to highlight.  Max was born by cesarean section and weighed 7lbs 4 ounces at birth.  He has been exclusively bottle fed.  Max completes our family as the youngest of four, with two older sisters and an older brother.


So, My Child Has Down Syndrome, Now What?
By Tabetha Frick, edHelperBaby

           Believe it or not the many questions that are going through your head right now are not that different from a parent who just gave birth to any child.  You want to know what is best for your child.  You wonder how you are ever going to raise this sweet little miracle just placed in your life.  What is different is your emotional state?  You may have feelings of anger, guilt, blame, or even shame.  First you need to know that all of those emotions are OK.  The emotions are your feelings and you have a right to them.  However, you do need to deal with these emotions and move on.  Give yourself some time, be patient and kind to yourself.   You have a wonderful journey ahead of you and you are going to need all the love and strength you can muster up.       

       Here is a list of several things you must know and remember regarding your child:
  1. He or she is first and foremost a baby.  This little one still needs the same love and affection as any other child, maybe even a little more.
  2. Do not let stereotypes crowd your mind.  Your baby is unique not because they have Down syndrome, but because they are an individual.  Any parent of multiple children will tell you that they can't raise their children exactly alike.
  3. Your child can and will continue to learn all of his or her life.  Down syndrome children develop differently, sometimes slowly and sometimes so fast your head will spin.  Their development may take special accommodations to reach the same goal as other children.  Just know that they are learning always.
  4. You may not think of yourself as a teacher, but you are the first of many teachers in your child's life and you DO make a difference.
  5. As with any child, the earlier you begin the better.  Not that there is ever a too late, but early intervention can help accelerate development, and may even prevent many headaches along the way.
       So, just how do you deal with all of this?  Well, do not try it alone.  Seek out support.  Family and friends are wonderful, for a start.  Remember, though, they might need some time to get through all of those emotions themselves.  Look for support groups.  The groups cannot only connect you with other parents, but medical assistance, disability programs, and any number of agencies that offer help.       

       Please above all, remember that you are your child's biggest advocate!  There are going to be good days and bad days.  Your child needs to know that you are going to be there through all of them.  Your love is endless and unconditional.  The reality of things is that they may not be the next Noble Peace Prize winner, throw the winning touch down or write the next best seller, but  I do guarantee that they will touch lives all around them in small and big ways.  As a parent, you have a unique opportunity to help your child reach out and touch those lives.       

What should I do about advice from friends and family?
By Johanna Knauff, edHelperBaby

         Welcoming a new member into a family can be one of the most exciting yet most stressful times in one's life. It is a great cause for celebration marking a new life and the roller coaster journey of parenthood.  The goal is a healthful, happy baby and a peaceful existence in one's home.  Well, the healthful, happy baby part may be the easiest goal to obtain, but the peaceful existence?  Sometimes, that goal is a little harder to achieve but, thankfully, not impossible.       

     When family members offer unsolicited advice, the kind that drives new parents bonkers, it is often done out of love and concern for the new parents and child.  Remember that seasoned parents are a wealth of experience and knowledge.  Most new parents understand this to be the case and finding a diplomatic way of refusing advice is a huge challenge, especially if Grandma or Grandpa is a sensitive soul.       

     What does one do if a family member gives unsolicited advice? Do you grin and bear it?  Establishing limits can be a tricky thing. In my case, I not only had to be careful with my own parents, but my husband's parents as well.  On top of that, I was a hormonal, exhausted new mom who desperately wanted to make sure everything was done right.  I had to remind myself that the human race has been perpetuating itself for thousands of years with new babies being born year after year. Surely my baby would be just fine too and I would not be any different.       

     Setting those limits should be established as early as possible, preferably before the baby arrives.  Unfortunately, in our imperfect world, that does not always happen right away.  As with everything else in life, good communication is always the key.  Whenever my well-meaning mother or father would approach me with some "helping words", my initial reaction was to always visibly bristle.  Although they would not say anything to me and they were very understanding, it did hurt their feelings which in turn made me feel very guilty.  Guilt is a negative emotion that affected me and eventually affected my baby.  That was so definitely NOT worth it!       

     Discerning good versus bad information is going to take some preparation from the new parents and having the pediatrician's number on speed dial as back-up to validate or nullify Grandma's advice is definitely one of the first (perhaps most important) steps! Safety should always be a top priority.  Besides good communication, new parents with the right attitudes (even if it takes some readjusting) help in the process as well.  The key to my situation was utilizing the right words and keeping an open, flexible mind. Thinking of the advice in a positive way, instead of thinking of it as an attack on my new status as a mom, helped tremendously.  I would stop myself from instantly putting up a fence and refusing input or being defensive i.e. "I know what I am doing!".  I became an active listener.   As long as the advice was safe and based on sound information as verified by my pediatrician, I took it in or refused it if I considered it unsafe or against my sensibilities .  Telling my family that I would "take things into consideration" seemed like such a good answer to them and in the end, dealing with these situations with the most tactful of manners really worked.   At certain times, they did not always work, but even with these certainly awkward conditions, continuous and respectful dialogue alleviated the tensions that arose.  As new parents, my husband and I always made an effort to thank our family and friends for the care that they were showing when they extended their knowledge, even if we did not always accept the information and that having them around to add to the care and love of the new baby was more important than anything else in the world.       

     As parents, and basically as human beings, we will never be perfect.  Holding ourselves to standards and expectations that no one can possibly live up to is just setting us up for failure.  It is a pointless endeavor.  Life with a new baby will have plenty of ups and downs, twists and turns, and all the good and bad that life has to offer.  Taking that journey with your extended loved ones in tow will make the trip more fun, enriching and all in all, so worth the effort.       

Generics Can Save You Money!
By Laura Delgado, Ph.D., edHelperBaby

         Many new parents are overwhelmed with the expense of a new baby.  Babies can go through so many diapers, fever reducers, gas drops, diaper rash cream and a myriad of other, previously unplanned for baby products.  As a mother scans the shelf, she quickly realizes that she can pay up to fifty per cent less for a generic product that purports to accomplish the same purpose as the brand name product.  Like any mother, she wants the best for her child and is wary of giving her baby anything but the very best.

     Can a no-name product really deliver the results that mother wants for her baby? The unequivocal answer is YES! First, regarding diapers, not all generics are created equal, but there are many that are every bit as equal to their brand name counterparts and are in some cases, their superiors.  Only trial and error can tell you which diapers work best for your baby but given that your baby's health is not at stake, feel free to experiment with the wide variety of store brand diapers that are available to see if they can stand up to what your baby dishes out.  You may be surprised and you can save up to seventeen cents per diaper in the process. The average brand name diaper can cost in excess of twenty-five cents but buying a store brand diaper, particularly when on sale, can result in a cost of only nine cents or so per diaper.  The savings, when totaled up over the diaper wearing lifetime of your baby and/or toddler, can be dramatic.

     In terms of medication, you also have very little to fear when giving your baby a generic version of a brand name.  As your pediatrician will tell you, the FDA requires that all generic medications contain the exact same amount and composition of the active ingredient as is found in the brand name.  The only differences occur in the inactive or carrier ingredients.  As long as your child is not allergic to any of these inactive ingredients, you can feel perfectly comfortable in giving her the generic alternative.

     So do not be afraid to use generic products on your baby.  Diaper and drug companies spend millions of dollars on advertising to convince you that only their version of the product will do for your precious newborn.  If you choose to use generic products, you can put the money you save towards something else for your baby where a generic just may not be the same.  For example, you might want to take a trip to Grandma's with the money saved by buying generic products.       

Bringing Baby Home
By Emilee Rogers, edHelperBaby

      You had your baby and are getting ready to go home from the hospital. Are you ready? Hopefully, you are reading this with plenty of time to get ahead of the game. One of the first things you should do is to prepare a list of things you normally do around the house. Of these things, decide which one's could go for a week or so if you cannot get them done. This way when you need help you will already know exactly what needs to be done. Then, decide which family members would be best suited to help with each task. Make sure you do not ask Aunt Edna to help with laundry if you notice all her white clothes are a little bluish! Do not be afraid to ask ahead of time. It will save you a lot of grief later.

  It is always good to prepare some meals that you can microwave later. You know better than anyone what your family likes to eat. Put some in family size containers, others in individual containers, then put them all in the freezer. Make sure they are sealed tight and VIOLA, you have microwave dinners in the right size. You can also start expressing your milk for the baby. You need to separate the first milk, a yellowish color, from the rest as this is very important. The baby needs this milk first. The rest can be frozen in individual disposable containers according to the pump's directions. When you need to get an extra hour of sleep, it helps if someone else has breast milk to feed the baby. If you are formula feeding, show whoever will help you with the bottles how to prepare the milk.       

  You will be exhausted for the first two to three days - if not longer. When the baby sleeps it is not time to catch up on anything. It is your cue to sleep also. You have already delegated what needs to be done. Some times it can be hard to sleep if the people helping you are in the way. Only you will know if that happens. If (when) it does do not feel bad asking them to give you a couple hours to yourself. They will understand. Put on some soft music, get something to drink and .... go to sleep !!


By Tabetha Frick, About my child Aaron

           Aaron is my youngest of five children.  When he was born his entire face was covered in a birth mark.  He looked like a burn victim.  The Doctor told us that this could be linked to many different health problems that we needed to watch for in Aaron.  Well, I could concentrate on what could be wrong or starting nurturing what was right with him.  I went with the nurture!       

       Aaron is now eleven.  He has had many comments on his face and yes a few health problems.  With our help, he does not feel any different than anyone else.  When asked what is wrong with his face, his answers vary.  If he is in an obnoxious mood, he replies, "Nothing, what is wrong with yours?"  If he feels like explaining he will.  My favorite response was one he gave to a child, "God knew I was going to be an active little boy, so he made sure my mommy could find me wherever I wandered."

To Pic or Not To Pic?
By Johanna Knauff, About my child Jenna

         My ten-year-old daughter was helping me choose pictures for our new family scrapbook project the other day when out of the blue she asked something that made me think for a minute.  "Mom," she said, "I see you have lots of pictures that you have taken yourself, but I do not see any professional ones of me like my brother has. Why is that?"  The hurt in her voice was very obvious as if she was afraid that her biggest nightmare, the belief that I TRULY loved her brother more than her, was about to come true.       

     I laughed out loud and proceeded to tell her of the experiences I had with her as a younger baby, toddler and child.  " Honey,"  I said truthfully, "Every single time I tried to take you to a photographer you would SCREAM AND CRY and what we hoped would be a half-hour trip would turn into a two hour nightmare.  You, for whatever reason, did not like someone else taking your picture."

       With that answer, my daughter showed me her big smile.  "I guess," she said, "I was a always my own person."

       Smart kid."       

Generics Saved My Budget!
By Laura Delgado, Ph.D., About my child Therese, Nicholas, Mary-Catherine, Michael

         With the arrival of four children within forty months, I needed some kind of a financial break.  When my twins, the youngest of my children were born, my oldest daughter, just over three years old, still wore diapers at night.  Thus, I had four children in diapers.  My twins alone would go through an excess of twenty diapers a day.  Fortunately, I had discovered generic diapers with my oldest daughter.  I have always been prone to calculate the unit cost of things and was horrified when I realized how much money I was stuffing in our diaper genie every day.  I decided to try a particular brand of generic diaper that was frequently placed on sale and I never looked back.  When I found out that I was expecting twins, I began stocking up in earnest whenever the diapers were on sale and I had laid in a supply of many hundreds by the time they were born.  It sounds silly but stocking up my supply of generic diapers allayed my stress considerably.

     Similarly, I have always taken generic medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, and once my pediatrician assured me that they were safe for my baby, I began to use them with her.  It is amazing how much baby fever reducer one baby can go through in the first year of life, to say nothing of twins! I have never regretted using generic products on my children and none have suffered ill effects.  If they ever noticed that the other babies had Elmo on their diapers while they had farm animals on their diapers they did not register their complaints with me!

Bringing My Son Home
By Emilee Rogers, About my child David Rogers

       I was kicked out of the hospital within fourteen hours of having my son. I was totally exhausted and could not take care of my two year old if I was able.  Luckily, my big sister told me what to expect so I had arranged for my mom to take my daughter for a week. My son and I slept almost three days straight only waking up for food and diaper changes. My house was cleaned before hand. I bought a lot of microwave dinners which were not exactly the best but I am not one who favors cooking while nine months pregnant! We were prepared in every way which enabled me, the new mommy, to feel comfortable about getting all the rest that I needed without feeling bad for doing so. There was even a system in place where people would call before they came over to help. It was a life saver when it came to being decent to receive company. If I was up to it I said, "Sure", if not I said, "Not right now, thanks."

   By preparing everything I could in advance, I was able to rest when I needed it the most. Talk with your family and see if they are able to help. They have been in your shoes. Coming home should be no problem for you if you take care of the "BIG" things in advance. As for the little things, a couple days will not hurt.


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